In the 20th century, Korean beauty products are easily found on the shelves of every big beauty departmental store. Moreover, many brands have expanded their operations to both the digital scene as well as having opened Korean makeup Singapore stores. What has driven the industry to such great heights? In this article, we take a look at the early roots of Korean beauty, such as their practices as well as the role of fair skin in their society.
Early day beauty products
In old Korea, ladies wore make-up to appear healthy. In old times, they developed facial scrubs, beauty creams, face creams and oils, in addition to coloured powders, rouge and brow ink.
Oils or flora seed essences were used as solvents and castor and camellia hair oil were extensively used as they are less sticky with a mild scent. Apricot and peach oils were believed to alleviate liver spots and freckles. Safflower oil rich in vitamin E and vital fatty acids was wanted for enhancing skin moisture and gloss.
Traditional cosmetics made from plants and grains had special odors to ensure that women added perfume to them. The fragrance was mainly made with dried out clove buds and worked as a deodorizer with a health effect, which was utilized when bathing as it was thought to minimize stress and psychological fatigue.
Ground rice and millet called “mibun” or “baekbun” were utilized as powders. Mibun was blended with water or oil to better adhere to the face.
Importance of eyebrows
Eyebrows were a key element. Hence eyebrow ink made from flora ash, soot in indigo, black, azure or dark brown was made use of to draw various forms of the brows. “Gyuhap Chongseo” explains the 10 popular brow designs but crescent or willow leaf shapes were most popular. “Yeonji” or rouge drawn out from safflower was put on the cheeks and lips.
Impact of farming culture
K-beauty is concerned with developing the impression of an immaculate complexion. Porcelain-white skin is looked at as an essential virtue for elegance in South Korea. This can be mapped back to the fact that fair complexion has generally been a status representation. South Korea used to be an agricultural community, where privileged classes did not labor under the sun and, because of this, had fairer skin.
The nation’s agricultural past, especially its rice-farming ancestry, is a factor for the collectivist mindset. It is not feasible to farm rice, a seasonal and labour-intensive kind of harvest, without needing help from others. As such, South Koreans have had to depend heavily on others. Wheat farming, however, which is widespread in the West, is something that can be carried out on your own. The advancement of trade and commerce in the West has promoted self-serving propensities, as competition is based upon distinction from others.”